Tuesday, May 6, 2014

tough love

This morning we said goodbye to our first foster placement.
The baby left our home, but she will never leave our hearts.
It is bittersweet... For us, we most likely won't see ever the baby again. For the baby, she gets to be reunited with family members. I don't know anything about these relatives, but I know that they've been thoroughly checked out and that the baby won't be placed in a situation that seemed dangerous, neglectful, or unsafe.

I have to trust that she will be safe and happy with them.

As author Kathy Harrison put it, I am "being forced to imagine the end." Because of confidentiality laws and privacy issues and such, we are not allowed to have contact with the biological family. We won't know when she learns to walk or hear her first words. She will not remember us.

It's amazing how quickly you can bond with someone, even though you know they aren't your child. We knew we weren't playing for keeps. But now that she is no longer with us, I am really feeling that loss.

The kids are sad. The preschoolers know the baby had to go back to her family. but it's difficult for them to process and put into words what they're feeling. The oldest is 9, and acting out horribly. She's definitely not herself right now. I completely gave up on trying to get any schoolwork done today (another plus for homeschooling - "mental health days" are allowed sometimes).

It's strange - this kind of loss is beyond my scope of experience up until now. It's not something that many other people can relate to. It's not the same as a pregnancy loss. I didn't have a miscarriage or suffer the death of a child. There was no tragedy or accident. There was even some forewarning. But it is still a loss. We are grieving because we love that baby, but she is not ours. We can't keep her, even if we wanted to. We can be her for-a-little-while family, but we can't be her forever family.

There's an empty place now. (It's true that there was an empty place before - there's been an empty bedroom here for 12 months, but this time the emptyness has a name and a face.) No more infant carseat to lug around, no more diaper bag to carry, no more buying formula or cleaning those darn bottles.

I took one last picture of the baby before she left, and in it, she is smiling as big as she possibly can.

That is what I want to hold onto and remember.

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